[ Thrill Jockey, 2015 ]
If a typical, say, 5-minute psychedelic song is like a swim in a lake to you, then don’t come near Wild Strawberries by the Portland band Eternal Tapestry. It is an ocean.
Well, actually, the ocean comparison is a bit off. I should compare the 5-minute song an the Eternal Tapestry to a garden and a vast primordial forest instead. Yes, that would be much more apt, considering the band spent their recording sessions in a secluded cabin in the Oregon mountains and named most of their tracks (including the album title) after different species of plants in the Northwest US area.
The natural spirit is spread all across the double LP, marking it the longest Eternal Tapestry material to date. Long, organ and guitar driven suites bring out the spirits of original lysergic classics from the 60’s and 70’s, yet somehow manages to catch the Swedish spirit of their psychedelic heavyweights and adopts that hypnotic, “endless” atmosphere reminiscent of Parson Sound. Recommended!
[ Spectrum Spools, 2012 ]
The astro-drone giant Emeralds spin-off project Outer Space led by John Elliott gradually turned into a sort of a collective, where Elliott was the leader, and the cast was constantly rotating, switching between different musicians mostly from the Mid-West experimental scene. On their (so far) final vinyl record Akashic Record, the Outer Space crew present their probably most polished work to date, fusing romantic Berlin school aesthetics with much more alien synthscapes, relating to the earlier, bubbling experiments of Elliott and his Emeralds crew. Atonal, alien soundworlds a’la Cluster ’71 evolves seamlessly into an arpeggio-filled shining ambient catharsis filled with crystalline sequencers and multilayered psychedelia. Music to cleanse your brain to. Recommended!
[ PAN, 2015 ]
Luke Younger, formerly of the noise/drone unit Birds of Delay keeps making hallucinatory, distorted psychedelic electronics under the guise Helm. His relationship with PAN label is healthy and fruity, but last year’s Olympic Mess might be the Mount Olympus indeed. On the newest LP, Younger mixes deep, pulsing synthscapes with metallic, rusted textures and occasional assaults of massive, bass-heavy noise. Mostly, though, it stays strangely liquid and fluid, as if alive with some unknown life force, escaping human understanding. Olympic Mess is an ever-evolving mass of pure sound, kept within a lo-fi fish tank. Highly recommended!
[ Baba Vanga, 2016 ]
The Romanian visual/musical duo Somnoroase Păsărele make the sort of syrupy, thick electronics somewhere between the disoriented, multilevel psychedelia of Astral Social Club or hazy collages of early James Ferraro (think KFC City 3099: Pt.1 Toxic Spill, but with more beats). The label blurb compares the album to a hall of mirrors – but it’s a hall of warped mirrors, distorting the body and causing confusion. But under all the distortion and confusion are a collection of mysterious, atmospheric compositions. If you managed to get through the thick molasses, the beauty is there.
[ Sounds of the Dawn, 2016 ]
Russian New Age acolyte Konstantin Skolnikov takes a rich and nuanced take on the most hippie genre ever with his Hybrid Palms project. On Pacific Image, a cassette released on American ambient label Sounds of the Dawn he brings together the most flowery and shimmery out of oldschool synths, enhances it with distant field recordings of paradise rainforests and a heavy influence of 80’s Japanese New Age/ambient school (think Midori Takada meets Iasos and you’re pretty close). Each track is like a journey to the next island in the tropical archipelago in the middle of a nameless ocean. Deeply meditational. Recommeded!
[ Unifactor, 2016 ]
Dynamic guitar vs. synth duels set in a nostalgic retrofuturistic arena. Cleveland’s Sam Goldberg presents his new tape on fresh label Unifactor, who apparently have a weird fetish of slapping mouth and eye emojis all over tropical bird illustrations. Whatever floats their boat, I guess. Back to the point: Sam Goldberg’s new tape reeks of Cluster (and maybe Harmonia?), with its syrupy drum machines and lazy, relaxed riffs that recall the completely stoned aesthetics of Blues Control (circa 2007), who also blended spaced-out electric guitar riffs with smokey trippertronics. Sometimes the guitar gets the first place in the mix and manages to emanate a nearly religious ambience not unlike Roy Montgomery. Deep riffs for the deeply affected. Recommeded!